I have never once taken a life. With my hands around their neck and their breath slowing to a stop, I have never once taken a life.
I love all of my victims. I love all of them so much that I bring them back immediately. I collect the mental image of their last breath and lock it away forever. That memory is mine, and no one else can have it. And then, they’re breathing again. I place my hand on their chest, and they’re alive. Only dead for a few moments. Just a few. Just enough for me to savor.
By the time they come to consciousness, they are safely back in their home, unaware that I have brought them close to the River Styx but not given them a boat. I have done this for seven years now, killing and reviving, savoring and getting away with it. I never see my victims again. There’s just no need to when I have that positively perfect memory in my head. I wish I could stay with them longer. I wish I could look upon their lifeless body for just a night or two.
But I’m scared, I’m paranoid, and I’m shy. I’m scared my powers won’t work if they’ve been dead for too long, and I’m paranoid they will remember me. And I am shy, even when I’m with their corpse. I don’t feel so lonely, but I still don’t know what to say. They’re always much too beautiful for me. What could I say to people that beautiful?
I broke my rule today, though. I found a woman different from the rest. She isn’t strikingly beautiful, but she’s a hidden gem. And when I watch her, she’s always quiet. Pensively judging those around her in silence. Everywhere she goes, she doesn’t say a word. She doesn’t smile. She makes no mark on the world.
But I couldn’t help myself. I killed her twice.
I killed her twice, and I plan to do it again.
The country that housed Marsev could hardly be called a country. It had many names that varied depending on the region. There was no overseeing government – there were stories of one having existed hundreds of years ago, but now there was no single power player. There were zoned territories that had their own form of government, though most seemed to run on an anarchic basis with gangs and crime syndicates ruling the streets.
Marsev was by far the most impoverished, crime-riddled, and forsaken zone. It had reached an all-time low approximately ten years ago when police brutality and increased taxes caused citizens to revolt by relying on gangs for protection, outsourced goods, and general order. Without enough military personnel to patrol each street, the government became a laughing stock and was disregarded as an entity altogether.
Since I was a child, the secular world had escaped me. My mother taught me that the grass was greener on the other side, but I had seen Heaven, and there was no grass. Only black weeds and smoke so thick my eyes watered. How inane she must have been, my mother.
The city of Marsev was in shambles, and it had not happened over night. But it sure as Hell seemed like it had just happened. Grandfathers recounted tales of when locks did not exist, of when no one looked over their shoulders. No one really knew when the change had set in. No one really knew who held power over the city anymore.
Like dust, gangs had begun settling in place around the city over the past decade. The most notorious of the delinquent groups was the ever powerful Wolf City gang. What was most surprising about Wolf City was that they were headed by a young woman barely old enough to call herself an adult.
Amoretta “Bullet” Stone was a woman well-worth the titles given to her. Enemies constantly capitulated in response to the terror she engrained in them. All the girl had to do was look a man in the eyes, and their knees would shake in what Bullet would call awe and what others would call absolute and unfiltered fear.